When it comes to Thai food, the cuisine ranks among the top of our ethnic food preferences. This classic from Milk Street, Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews raised the bar as the best version we’ve made at home. We pretty much followed the recipe to a T, except exchanging a medium-large red pepper in place of the small one. Oh, and of course we increased the amount of cashews 😉
Milk Street’s version uses mostly pantry staples and can be on the table in about 30 minutes. The chicken marinates for 15 minutes before cooking, and you can prep the bell pepper and scallions in the meantime. Serve the stir-fry with steamed jasmine rice.
Tip: Don’t discard the marinade after draining the chicken. It’s mixed with ¼ cup water and becomes a sauce that lightly coats the chicken and vegetables.
With stir-fries, most commonly we use our carbon steel wok, but our large cast-iron skillet happened to be sitting on the stovetop that evening, so it became the vehicle of choice. Choose your weapon—I mean skillet—according to your own preference, but don’t use a non-stick otherwise the chicken won’t brown well, if at all.
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths; save some thinly sliced greens for garnish
1/2 cup roasted cashews, more for garnish if desired
In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, pepper flakes and ¾ teaspoon white pepper. Stir in the chicken, then marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
Drain the chicken in a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl, pressing the chicken to remove excess marinade. Stir ¼ cup water into the marinade and set aside.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken in an even layer, then cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the bell pepper, scallions and cashews. Stir the marinade mixture to recombine, add to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid thickens and clings to the chicken, about 2 minutes.
We’ve been posting a lot of grilled skewer recipes lately and here’s one more, this time for you shrimp lovers. There are myriad versions of Southeast Asian satay, which are grilled skewers of seasoned meats or seafood. This simplified version, complements of Milk Street, is a Singapore-style shrimp satay mainstay.
A fragrant blend of cashews and coconut milk gave the shrimp richness and cloaked them with wonderful bold flavors. The pungent shallot-vinegar dipping sauce created a perfect accent and was the icing on the cake. While we figured it was going to be good based on the ingredients, we weren’t quite prepared for just how fabulous it was!
As for the shrimp themselves, we bought jumbo sized because they were on sale and they don’t dry out as quickly. Consequently it took another minute or so to grill them. Yes, some of the marinade will fall off into the grill, but as you can see from the photos, a good portion remains clinging to the shrimp.
A couple of DONT’S: Don’t use shrimp smaller than the size specified (although you can go larger like we did). They will overcook before they have a chance to take on any the flavorful char that is a hallmark of satay. And don’t use light coconut milk. The fat from regular coconut milk is needed for flavor.
1½ lbs. extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
½ cup roasted cashews, plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped roasted cashews
5 Tbsp. coconut milk, divided
1 oz, fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 med. garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 Tbsp. grated lime zest
2 serrano chilies, stemmed, halved and seeded, divided
3 Tbsp. packed light or dark brown sugar, divided
4 tsp. fish sauce, divided
2 med. shallots, finely chopped
½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
In a food processor, combine the ½ cup cashews and 3 tablespoons of coconut milk. Process until almost smooth, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed.
Add the ginger, garlic, lime zest, 2 chili halves, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons fish sauce; process until finely chopped, 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the shrimp, rubbing to coat them thoroughly. Marinate at room temperature while you make the sauce and prepare the grill.
Thinly slice the remaining 2 chili halves and add to a small bowl along with with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, the remaining 2 teaspoons fish sauce, the shallots and vinegar. Stir until the sugar dissolves; set aside.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct, high heat cooking.
While the grill heats, thread the shrimp onto eight 10- to 12-inch skewers, dividing them evenly. Skewer each shrimp in a C shape, piercing through two points.
When the grill is ready, brush one side of the skewered shrimp with some of the remaining 2 tablespoons coconut milk. Place the skewers brushed side down on the grill (directly over the coals if using charcoal) and cook until the shrimp are well charred, 2 to 3 minutes.
Brush the skewers with the remaining coconut milk, then flip and cook until the second sides are well charred and the shrimp just turn opaque, about another 2 minutes.
Sprinkle with chopped cashews and serve with the dipping sauce.
If like me, you crave melon during the warm summer months, it may be psychological. Apparently we are drawn to water-rich foods in hot weather because they keep us hydrated and require less energy to digest. This recipe kicks the mundane cubes/slices up a notch with more texture and savory flavors.
To counter the abundant water contributed by the cantaloupe, make an intense dressing with assertive ingredients such as lemon juice, red onion, and ground dried Aleppo pepper, but skip the oil, which would only be repelled by the water on the surface of the cantaloupe. Instead, add richness with oil-cured olives, which—when chopped fine—adhere to the surface of the cantaloupe pieces and hold onto the dressing.
Taste your melon as you cut it up: If it’s very sweet, omit the honey; if it’s less sweet, add the honey to the dressing.